Kenya. In January, a group of men from the Somali Islamist movement al-Shabab attacked a hotel and office complex in the affluent Westlands area of the capital Nairobi. The perpetrators, four to six in number, triggered explosive charges and opened fire with automatic carbines. One of them was said to have blown himself up in the air outside a restaurant. The anti-terror forces seemed to be in control of the situation after a few hours, but still in the morning after occasional gunfire was heard. A total of at least 21 people are reported to have fallen victim to the attack and five terrorists were killed. According to a statement from al-Shabab, the attack was a response to US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. In early December, ten people, including seven police officers, were killed in northern Kenya in an attack by al-Shabab members.
In July, three people were indicted for involvement in the terrorist attack against the University of Garissa in 2015. According to the court, it was proven that the three had had contact with the perpetrators of al-Shabab who performed the act, in which 148 people were killed. One Tanzanian citizen was sentenced to life imprisonment while the other two Kenyan citizens were sentenced to 41 years in prison.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER.ORG: Click to see the meanings of 3-letter acronym and abbreviation of KEN in general and in geography as Kenya in particular.
In mid-February, Kenya called home its ambassador from Somalia’s capital Mogadishu for “deliberations” and at the same time Somalia’s ambassador was invited to leave Kenya. The reason for the diplomatic crisis was that, at the beginning of the month, according to the Kenyan government, Somalia had auctioned off the right to extract oil and natural gas in a disputed sea area between the two countries. Only in September did Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Somali counterpart Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed agree to re-establish bilateral diplomatic relations. The meeting took place in conjunction with the UN General Assembly opening its annual meetings. In November, the two heads of state met again, this time in Nairobi, and then agreed to normalize the diplomatic relations between the countries. The question of where the border should go to sea has already been referred to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. In August, Kenya exported crude oil extracted in the country for the first time. It was about 200,000 barrels sold to the Chinese state-owned company ChemChina for 12 million US dollars.
In March, actress Samantha Mugatsia was awarded the Best Female Actress at the big Fespaco Film Festival in Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou for her role in the controversial film “Rafiki”, which is about love between women. The film was banned in 2018 because it is alleged to encourage lesbian sexuality. Homosexual acts are banned under Kenyan law and will continue to do so, according to a ruling in the Supreme Court in May. Anyone who violates the law risks being sentenced to up to 14 years in prison. According to LGBT activists who have pushed the issue of decriminalization, the law violates the constitution, while opponents claim that same-sex relationships are an “African” phenomenon. The court thus went on the latter line.
In September, President Kenyatta stopped the project to build the Kimwar Dam in the western part of the country. An investigation had then shown that the project was both financially and technically unsustainable. Although large sums had already been paid, the building had not come very far. However, the construction of another pond in the area, Arrord dam, still got the thumbs up by the president. Almost a month earlier, Finance Minister Henry Rotich and 27 other people were arrested for involvement in corruption around the Kimwarerdamm project.
In June, new banknotes were launched and at the end of September – October, the old banknotes ceased to be used as means of payment. The measure was an attempt to set the bar for people who, through money laundering and corruption, accumulated large sums and others who withheld assets to avoid paying taxes. To support the country’s tech industry, an order was issued in October for public employees to wear domestically-made clothing at work every Friday.
At the end of November, at least 56 people died in landslides caused by heavy rains in the western part of the country. Several political reform proposals were launched in the same month. The reform package is called Building Bridges Initiatives and is the result of negotiations between President Kenyatta and his political opponent Raila Odinga. Among other things, a prime ministerial post will be created. The Prime Minister shall be appointed by Parliament and approved by the President. The candidate who becomes second in the presidential election will be given the role of opposition leader in parliament. In addition, efforts were made against corruption and youth unemployment.
According to CountryAAH, the population of Kenya in 2019 was 52,573,862, ranking number 27 in the world. The population growth rate was 2.300% yearly, and the population density was 92.3744 people per km2.